Investment manager jailed for theft

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AN INVESTMENT manager who admitted stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from friends and business associates was yesterday sentenced to four years in prison.

Kenneth Renton, 58, who used to run Wentworth Asset Management, pleaded guilty last month to 18 charges of theft and obtaining property by deception involving a total of pounds 645,000. He denied other offences of stealing a further pounds 1m.

At the Inner London Crown Court, Judge Peter Fingret sentenced Renton to four years' imprisonment on each charge, to run concurrently.

He also disqualified Renton from being a company director for 10 years.

The judge said the public was 'entitled to know that those who commit large-scale thefts and deceptions of this magnitude will pay the penalty for their dishonesty.'

Renton had built up the trust of friends, acquaintances and business associates with promises of low-risk investment, 'in the knowledge that the money would be used solely for your own benefit, namely to prop up your own business'.

Judge Fingret said he gave Renton no credit for turning to dishonesty while under pressure from the Bank of Scotland. But he recognised his full co-operation with police, his guilty pleas and his 'genuine remorse'.

Renton's victims included neighbours as well as prominent City and business figures such as Sir Edward Goschen, formerly a stockbroker with Scrimgeour Vickers, and Harbourne Stephen, a director of the Telegraph newspaper group.

He fleeced his clients by inviting them to invest in a bogus issue of shares by Mount Charlotte Investments, the large hotel group where he was a director for many years.

Roy Amlot QC, in mitigation, said Renton was ruined and had no future. A creditor had commenced bankruptcy proceedings. 'The most dreadful fact for him is that he leaves a wife who is unwell to fend for herself,' Mr Amlot said.

Mr Amlot told the court how Renton's troubles were aggravated by the pounds 300,000 or so that one of his companies committed to the musical Around the World in 80 Days.

He said Renton 'remains to this day convinced that he could have survived and that the business could have survived but for the action . . . of the Bank of Scotland'.

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